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Ear to the Ground

How Much Did Obama Know About NSA Spying? Depends on Whom You Ask

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Posted on Oct 28, 2013
White House/Pete Souza

Intelligence officials speaking anonymously (do they know any other method?) are reportedly pissed that the White House seems to be distancing the president from the NSA’s metastasizing eavesdropping scandal.

Indications that Obama didn’t know the U.S. was spying on foreign leaders such as Angela Merkel are bogus, reports the L.A. Times:

Obama may not have been specifically briefed on NSA operations targeting a foreign leader’s cellphone or email communications, one of the officials said. “But certainly the National Security Council and senior people across the intelligence community knew exactly what was going on, and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.”

If U.S. spying on key foreign leaders was news to the White House, current and former officials said, then White House officials have not been reading their briefing books.

Some U.S. intelligence officials said they were being blamed by the White House for conducting surveillance that was authorized under the law and utilized at the White House.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, “I am totally opposed” to spying on foreign leaders unless the United States is engaged in hostilities or it’s an emergency of some kind. Feinstein, who should be briefed on espionage in keeping with the constitutional principle of separate, co-equal branches of government, said her committee had not heard about such activities in more than a decade. Feinstein has been a harsh critic of Edward Snowden, the whistle-blower whose leaks provided the information she says she was chagrined not to be getting. Seems like an apology is in order.

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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